Building a Barn 2021 - Costs & Tips?

Hello fellow equestrians,

This is my first horse forum! I am currently in the market for some acreage to build my dream barn. I am ecstatic to finally take care of my own horses and eliminate board costs.

I am looking to build a “luxury” (aesthetically pleasing) eight (12x12) stall barn with dutch doors/attached runs, mesh stall fronts, a climate-controlled tack room, climate-controlled feed room, hot/cold wash stalls, and a restroom.

I am thinking of doing a metal barn with wood barn doors, dutch doors, and accents.

** My question is … I am attempting to prepare my budget as best possible. I understand no one will know the exact number until everything is built up and complete, but am hoping someone can give me a ballpark range of what the barn costs will be? **

I have seen drastic ranges from $30,000 - $350,000. Even if you cant predict the cost of my dream barn, I would love to hear costs of other projects to help put things into perspective.

Note: I am starting entirely from scratch. No base, plumbing, electric, etc.

Please share your barn building or renovation experiences below! This post is mainly to inquire about costs, but would love to hear any tips, things you would change about your barn, what to expect, or even outside of barn costs such as a riding arena or fencing.

Thank you all so much in advance!


Just based on my knowledge of what my Barnmaster barn would have cost new about 10 yrs ago (approx $40k), it being half size of your plan, and the fact that lumber is up 130 percent… You will not get even close to your lower number. I suspect $200+ per sq ft would be a conservative number to start


It’s going to be a lot. But the cost will depend on lumber and labor costs in your area. Also where you need to run water and electric from. Are you going to buy a prefab metal building and then build out the inside? You could start pricing prefab in your area.

Much will depend on how much draining and site preparation you need.

It’s not going to be $30,000. It’s going to be much higher. Honestly you are better off looking for property with a functional barn already.

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I didn’t think it would be $30K, but am hoping it will fit in a budget of around $150K. Thanks!

getting utilities to the building site could take your breath away

The cost really depends on just where/what state this to be built. And what flaming hoops must be jumped through to even get started.

Often building this type of project is sort of like building a bonfire of $100 bills


Way to many variables to give an accurate quote. I would expect your 150k number to be on the low end.


Also will this be a personal barn or geared toward a business?

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Far too much.

10/10 recommend buying a property with existing horse facilities. You can remodel.


With the rising costs of materials, you might find even your $300K estimate low for all the amenities you want.

My plain 36X36 pole barn, built 17yrs ago & including 2 12X12 stalls & 60X120 attached indoor with none of the other extras you mention (feedroom, wash stall, etc) cost $69K pre-pandemic dollars.
Add site prep for $9K, electric for $9K, trenching for frostfree hydrant $800 (run from the well that serves my house), simple fencing (3 strand coated tensile, 6" posts set @ 12’) for 2 small - 1/2ac & ~2ac - pastures for $13K.
Add various odds & ends: heated buckets for stalls, various implements (muckfork, shovel, brooms, etc) & miscellany for several hundred more.

If your pockets are deep, get what you want.
But do be prepared for A LOT of delays.
I am hearing just getting materials these days is taking much longer than ever before.

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You will also need a riding ring. Depending on how much site preparation and drainage you need, you could spend up to $50,000 on an outdoor arena and double that on an indoor.

All the information I’ve read on COTH suggests that horse specific construction does not usually add much to the resale value of the land. So you’d be much better off getting a property with a functional barn as opposed to buying empty acreage and building a barn from scratch, a cost you will never recoup.

Then you need to also think about a house for humans.


this to me is the way to go as Horse specific properties have not been a part in this runaway housing market bid wars as this type of property is not the type a real estate investment group seeks.

Can you build a house, two care takers apartments, a 38 stall modern barn, ringing areas, then fence and cross fence 49 acres for $1.2M… in a development that has 25 miles of restricted to owners bridle paths?

Very special equine estate property in the unique community of L’Esprit. This beautiful farm includes 49 acres of lush four board fenced pastures whose paddocks allow for much easier livestock management. The historic home has been specifically remodeled / updated while maintaining the charm of yesteryear. A magnificent barn features 38 stalls, wash racks, feed and equipment rooms, a shop, spacious lounge / office area and 2 - 2 bedroom 1.5 bath apartments have been designed and beautifully furnished for your farm manager and staff


I built last year and the first piece of advice from our quasi GC helping us not make big mistakes was NOT to build it. To buy it. So much more expensive to build. But we love our property and can not leave. 700 ft off the road, 20 acres, big pond, spring-fed water source, close to town yet feels way out. Woods, pasture, small house that we’ve gutted and made perfect to our liking.

So first question, can you buy instead? If not, find a damn good builder who builds barns. Are Amish around you? I used a very well-known Amish builder and saved probably 40% as compared to the big names.

Specs: 168x96 foot building (72x144 indoor w 24 ft wings off each side. One side stalls, internal access sawdust room w exterior delivery door, tack room, wash stall and hay storage. Other side tractor/implement storage and workshop.)

Excavating was $50,000+ and the ground was relatively flat w no water issues. He was known to be reasonably priced. I’d gotten a bid from a well known excavator doing barns in our area and he said his quote is usually as much as the building! Excavating work included installing driveways all around the building, building the pad, lasering and rolling the sub base in the arena, doing a weeks worth of moving top soil to get clay, replacing top soil, regrading, trenching for utilities and drainage, and installing 40x160 drylot. Gives you an idea on that.

My dear, very dear husband took all the electrical and plumbing to save us on that. Probably would have been $50k more for that? Not sure.

Fence - hot coated electric - $20k. Includes two smaller paddocks and three bigger turnouts - 4 acres total. Lots of safe corners - 12 gates.

The shell of the building (WE’RE finishing the workshop, tack room, wash stall) was $300k and included the stalls and gutters too. BUT, it would have been $200k except DH added all kinds of commercial quality and sturdiness to withstand weather. So call it $200k if you weren’t an engineer/architect type of mind.

Quote to do base and sand - $20k. Perimeter fence - $20k. Stone and aggregate - $20k.

So we ended up over $500k? They say to plan on that 20% and that sure was our experience.

Do have mesh yoke doors on the inside, beautiful dutch doors off the outside, 12x60 ft lean off the stalls.

Would I do it all over again? Yes. But would rather have bought it for less. And, it was the most brutal, stressful project of our lives.

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Another reason to try not to build this year. The price of lumber.

Just so you have another datapoint.

We hired a company to build a 50’ x 88’ pole barn in 2017 for $50k. No site prep, no water/electricity, no stalls, no fencing. Just the pole barn, siding, and lots of doors; pre-pandemic, low bid.

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We are currently finishing up almost exactly the same barn you want to build. 36x48 pole barn. 8 “stalls” (5 finished-to-matting animal stalls (dutch doors with runouts on four of them), a concrete hot/cold wash stall with armature and slop sink, fully enclosed tack and feed room with T&G walls, beadboard ceiling and concrete floors), beadboard ceiling over the center aisle, open over the stalls for hay dropdown from the railed loft (with a full staircase to access). Center close 12 foot sliding doors at either end of the barn and a sliding hayloft door at one end. For water, we are having to tap into our existing well which is remote from the barn, so an extra expense has been a well manager system to divert water from the existing well to a pressurized storage tank adjacent to the barn.

We are hovering around 90K so far. We are in NW NJ. Still to go is the runout fencing and my 100x200 outdoor ring.

We’ve owned the property for almost 3 years before starting this build, so we gave plenty of thought to placement, orientation, drainage and site prep. My husband is an LA so experienced with gross site design. He also does cabinet building/finish carpentry as a hobby, so he’s able to execute details I see online/in books etc. In my opinion you can’t look at too much barn porn in the planning stages!

Happy to answer any questions you might have.

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Slight hijack here: when we really are “post-pandemic” does anyone see the price of steel/lumber going down?


Follow up question: Is it more financially reasonable to buy a property with a barn already on the premises - even if I plan to completely demo the barn to redo it to my liking? Just trying to figure out what makes the most sense.


  • OP

I did something similar in 2019 and it was $170 k in Florida. Before the spike in lumber costs. Excludes water and electric work.

Depends what you mean by completely demo. Depends how derelict the structure is.

I think the bottom line is you can probably buy functional, even if it needs a new roof. But as soon as you want picture perfect, a showpiece, it’s going to really cost.

If I had horses on my own land, I’d like good pastures with ample run in shelter. I’d want a central barn for hay storage and really bad weather, but I’d love to have horses out 24/7. So to me the really pretty barn would be of less interest than good pasture.

My part of the world, you can’t use pasture in the winter without killing the grass. So I’d be thinking about some generous system of drylots too.

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Maybe if OP can give a general geographic area it may help to estimate costs.

Generally speaking it’s a better investment to buy a property with most of what you would build.
Like the others have said, horse improvements just don’t appraise for full value regardless of how fancy it may be. So look at it from an investment point of view.